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Liberian rubber lacks Int’l standards

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An expert in the rubber industry has disclosed that productivity in the rubber sector of Liberia is below international standards. Dr. LMK Tillekeratne says planting low yielding clones of unknown identity, poor quality of plants in the field as a result of low stands of trees and wrong exploitation of tapping techniques adopted by the country are responsible for low productivity in the rubber industry here, especially among small rubber farmers.

Dr. Tillekeratne, who is former Executive Director of the Sri Lanka Rubber Institute, and an advisor to Adam Smith international, pointed out that farmers in Liberia should take their farming activities seriously in order to generate money.

The rubber expert, who was contacted by Grow Liberia to provide knowledge on the rubber sector here, also spoke of the Ribbed Smoked Sheets or RSS during a one-day forum held at in Monrovia. Grow Liberia is a private sector development initiative that promotes economic growth and stability through partnership with national governments and private companies.

The program is a five years Swedish international development cooperation agency funded market development initiative that employs making markets work for poor approach. Grow is also engaged in promoting increase profitability of smallholder farm operation, and seeks to contribute to sustainable growth and stability, with particular emphasis on women and youth and the entire environment.

Addressing reporters recently in Monrovia at Grow office in Sinkor, Dr. Tillekeratne narrated that the average annual world productivity at present has gone up to over 1,300kgs in india; 800 in Vietnam, 1,700 in Malaysia, and 1,550 in other countries.

H said the annual productivity of rubber in Liberia is about 480kg, saying, “From this observation, it is clear that farmers here in Liberia have no access to this new technology developed by IRRDB member countries.”

He told the gathering that if a quality of high yielding clones is not planted here, Liberian farmers will suffer for about 30 years with a passenger, because there should be not less than 450 trees per hectares in a mature field, but Liberian plantation stands as low as 200-250 trees per hectares which is one of the reasons why plants are not bearing roots stumps.

The experts indicated that when bare roots stumps are planted mortality is close to about 50% because farmers will experience six months dry spell without rain, which could only be overcome by planting poly bagged plants. By Lewis S. Teh – Editing by Jonathan Browne

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